We caught up with Samantha Cooper, AIC’s London Director who works at the new CIEE Global Institute – London, located in the famed Russell Square. We not only got the scoop on the new space, we also asked her for some tips and advice that will lend itself to living abroad in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. From the must have app to the best city parks, Sam gave us an insider look into the wonderful world of being a Londoner.
CIEE Internships (CIEE INT): How long have you worked with CIEE; have you always been in this location?
Samantha Cooper (SC): I joined the Academic Internship Council (AIC) and CIEE in 2016. I previously worked at AIC’s predecessor organization, EUSA, where I established the University Relations Department in Boston, and then served as the London Director, overseeing the programmes and placements of over 800 student interns each year.
CIEE INT: What makes the CIEE Global Institute in London different from other study sites?
SC: London is a city that is different for everyone: students studying history have world-class museums and cultural centres at their doorstep; those with an interest in the arts are able to take advantage of the active art scene, fringe theatres, and learn about the film community; politics students can learn in real time about post-Brexit Britain; and business students are at the epicentre of global business and finance in Europe and have a myriad of free networking events at their disposal, including opportunities to meet leaders in the growing start-up and ‘Silicon roundabout’ communities. What makes London unique is the opportunity for students to discover the many different “Londons” and be a part of defining what London is for them.
CIEE INT: What are 3 things you must do when visiting London?
SC: The best things in London are free! Narrowing it down to 3 things is an impossible task, as all the major museums are free and open to the public, and there are endless free or cheap activities for students. I do, however, think that the following three things will begin to give you a flavour of what London has to offer:
- Get a sense of London’s vibrant multicultural communities by going to Brick Lane and walking around. Do a free self-guided tour (and grab some street food or curry while you are there).
- Go to Postman’s Park and visit the monument to commemorate ‘heroism in every-day life’ (as seen in the move Closer)! Watts’ Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice is a gallery of tiles that celebrate men and women who gave their lives attempting to save others, and the tiles tell touching and tragic tales.
- Do as Londoners do, and visit the parks. Visit the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park; take in the views of London at Primrose Hill, part of Regent’s Park; or check out one of my favourites, Greenwich Park, and stand on the Prime Meridian Line!
CIEE INT: What is Russell Square known for and what do you like about being located in the area?
SC: Russell Square is located in the heart of Bloomsbury, an area of London known for the arts, education, and medicine. We are surrounded by London’s top universities, hospitals, and the British Museum is just down the road. I love how central Russell Square is, and I can easily get around to different parts of London. I have a bit of an obsession with train stations, and Russell Square is a short walk from the beautiful St Pancras International Station, as well as King’s Cross Station (with Platform 9 ¾)!
CIEE INT: Why should people choose London as their internship city?
SC: One of the most important skills a student can learn (and that employers look for) is the ability to communicate with and learn from people unlike themselves. There is no better place in the world for students to work and learn alongside people from a diversity of backgrounds. London is truly a global city, and with more than 300 languages spoken here, it is one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world. Students won’t only have people from a variety of countries in their workplace, but they will be thrown into the mix on the tube and buses (one hasn’t lived until they have experienced a London commute) surrounded by people with different accents, languages, and religions.
CIEE INT: Any tips or “life hacks” for living in London?
SC: An absolute essential for getting around London is the Citymapper app, it’s the best way to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Sometimes, it is better to walk, and to find out how many steps there are between tube stops – check out Transport for London’s map. For a secret study spot, you can go to Google Campus. It is free to become a member, has fast Wifi and a café, and you never know who you will meet!
CIEE INT: What’s your favorite part about living and working in London?
SC: Brits – and their amazing sense of humour! In London, everything is made better with a joke (and a cup of tea) and the workplace is no different. Brits find humour in almost everything and that makes for a fun (if sometimes confusing) office environment. Once you understand that when they are making fun of you they like you, then you can try your hand at office banter.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @samcooperAIC
CIEE currently offers 2 Internship programs in London, the Summer Global Internship and the Arts & Sciences (Westminster) Study Abroad with Internship. Please visit our Programs Page for more info.
About the Global Institute – London:
At 11,500 sq. ft., CIEE’s new London campus is large enough to accommodate increasing numbers of study abroad students. Located at 46-47 Russell Square, the building features Georgian-style architecture, 15 classrooms, a resource-rich library, stylish café, garden terrace, and technology center.
In addition to its prime location, the Global Institute – London offers CIEE’s unique Open Campus program, which allows students of all majors to design a study abroad experience that’s right for their needs – one that offers maximum mobility, immersion, and intensive study, with opportunities for internships, research projects, and community service. Students can enroll in one, two, or three six-week academic blocks in London, or combine blocks at multiple CIEE Global Institutes, including at Berlin, Paris, or Rome, to immerse themselves in the unique cultural, historical, commercial, and academic attributes that make each place special.
In addition to the new London location, CIEE will open its two new Global Institutes in Paris and Rome this fall.